Chicken enthusiasts and hobby farmers love to experiment with different breeds of chickens. With such a diversity of chicken breeds available, it’s not easy to decide which birds you want to add to your flock. This is the first of a series laying out a list of 53 chicken breeds, in alphabetical order, and their descriptions to help inform your decision.
Each breed offers unique characteristics, attributes, and rich historical background, six of which will be our focus today – the Ameraucana, Andalusian, Ancona, Aseel, Australorp, and Belgian Bearded d’Anvers. At the end of the article, I will provide a link to the next six breeds, and so on until all 53 are revealed.
As you look over the different breeds in this series you will add to your knowledge about what you need to raise chickens in general – which breeds can be put together. which lay the best, which are cold hardy, etc.
Okay, enough said. Enjoy your journey…
Ameraucana: America’s Multicolored Egg Layer
The Ameraucana, a relatively new breed on the poultry scene, was developed in the United States in the 1970s. The breed originated from blue egg-laying chickens imported from Chile, initially dubbed “Easter Eggers” for their multicolored eggs. Breeders worked diligently to standardize the breed, leading to its recognition by the American Poultry Association in the 1980s.
Ameraucanas are medium-sized birds, notable for their ‘beard’ and ‘muff’ feathering around their faces, giving them a distinctive appearance. They also have a pea comb and slate or black legs. Ameraucanas lay medium to large eggs at the rate of 150-200 per year in various shades of blue, adding a touch of novelty to the egg basket.
Ameraucanas come in a variety of colors. The American Poultry Association recognizes eight standard colors: Black, Blue, Blue Wheaten, Brown Red, Buff, Silver, Wheaten, and White. This wide range of colors adds to their appeal.
Personality-wise, Ameraucanas are typically calm and adaptable. They are known to be friendly, not particularly aggressive, and can get along well in a mixed flock. They also tend to be hardy in both cold and hot climates
Despite their calm nature, they’re not typically lap birds, but they are known to be good foragers if given the chance to roam.
Andalusian: The Spanish Blue Beauty
The Andalusian chicken, named after the region in Spain from which it originates, is known for its unique blue plumage. First imported to England in the mid-19th century, it quickly gained popularity due to its striking appearance and reliable egg-laying capabilities.
Andalusians are excellent layers. They typically produce around 150-200 medium to large white eggs per year. Despite their high productivity, they aren’t usually broody, meaning they don’t often have the instinct to sit on their eggs to hatch them.
Andalusians are medium-sized birds, weighing in around 5 lbs for the hens and 7 for the roosters. They have a single comb and white earlobes.
The slate-blue feathering is a result of the blue gene, which when bred, produces offspring in a ratio of 50% blue, 25% black, and 25% splash (white with blue spots).
Andalusian chickens are active, hardy, and adaptable. They’re known for their spirited and energetic nature, enjoying free-range settings where they can forage. Despite being somewhat flighty, they can become more sociable with regular handling.
Their active nature and high egg production make them an excellent choice for those who have a bit of space and are seeking a productive and lively breed.
Ancona: Italy’s Speckled Egg Layer
The Ancona chicken, not to be confused with the duck of the same name, originates from the Italian city of Ancona. These chickens were popular in England before they made their way to America in the late 19th century.
Anconas are small to medium-sized birds with a slim build. They are instantly recognizable by their black plumage speckled with white ‘V-shaped spots. Their legs are mottled, and they have a single or rose comb.
Ancona chickens are robust layers of 200-250 white eggs per year, often continuing to lay throughout the winter when other breeds may stop. They are active foragers, enjoy free-ranging, and are known to be good flyers.
In personality, Ancona chickens are active and alert, and while they can be a bit flighty and are not typically as docile as some other breeds, they can become more sociable with regular handling.
They are known for their independent nature and can be a bit more challenging to keep confined due to their active and agile nature. These traits, along with their striking appearance and laying ability, make them an interesting choice for poultry keepers.
Aseel: The Ancient Warriors of India
Originating from India, Aseel chickens are among the oldest known chicken breeds, renowned for their impressive strength and fearsome fighting prowess. The name “Aseel” translates to “pure” or “high caste,” fitting for a breed historically associated with nobility.
Historically, Aseel chickens were primarily bred for cockfighting due to their naturally aggressive behavior towards other chickens, particularly males. They are known for their endurance and powerful, muscular build. While cockfighting is now illegal in many parts of the world, the Aseel’s legacy as a fighting bird continues to influence its reputation.
Physically, Aseels are muscular birds with a compact, heavy build. Their thick necks, broad chests, and sturdy legs convey their natural strength. They have a pea comb and their skin is typically yellow. Though not prolific layers, Aseels lay 80-100 tinted or brown eggs per year.
Despite their history as fighting birds, Aseel chickens are usually calm and quiet around people. They are not typically flighty or skittish, making them relatively easy to handle. However, due to their natural aggressiveness towards other chickens, care must be taken when integrating them into an existing flock, especially with other roosters.
Australorp: Australia’s World Record Layers
The Australorp breed was developed in Australia in the 20th century, originally named “Australian Black Orpingtons” in honor of their ancestry. The goal was to create a breed that combined the excellent laying abilities of the Orpington with greater hardiness and utility. The breed certainly made its mark when an Australorp hen set a world record by laying 364 eggs in 365 days.
Australorps are heavy, large birds with glossy black plumage, deep breasts, and a full abdomen. The breed’s single comb is medium-sized, and they have dark eyes and black legs. Australorps lay a large number of brown eggs and are known for their excellent meat quality.
Roosters can weigh up to 8-10 lbs while hens weigh in between 6-8 lbs. In spite of their impressive size, Australorps are very good around people including children.
Australorps are considered a dual-purpose breed, meaning they are valued both for their egg-laying abilities and for their meat. While they are often kept for their prolific egg production, their size, and rapid growth make them a viable option for those seeking a meat bird as well. They reach maturity relatively quickly, with roosters typically filling out in about 22 weeks and hens starting to lay at around 22-24 weeks.
Known for their docility, Australorps are calm and friendly birds, making them an excellent choice for backyard flocks. They are hardy and adaptable to various climates and confinement or free-range environments.
Belgian Bearded d’Anvers: The Charming Bearded Bantam
Originating from Antwerp in Belgium, the Belgian Bearded d’Anvers is a true bantam, meaning there is no large fowl counterpart. Renowned for their charming, ‘bearded’ appearance, these birds are often kept for ornamental purposes.
Weighing in at 1-2 lbs Belgian Bearded d’Anvers are small, plump birds with a distinctive full beard and muff, a rounded chest, and a tail carried high. Their single comb is small and hidden by the crest feathers. They lay a modest number of small, tinted eggs.
Despite their small size, they possess a big personality. The Belgian Bearded d’Anvers is known for its friendly and calm disposition, often enjoying human interaction. They make an excellent addition to a backyard flock, charming their owners with their distinctive look and social nature.
The global diversity of chicken breeds never fails to amaze and inspire. In our continued exploration of these wonderful creatures, we will delve into six more distinctive breeds in my next chapter in this series, each with unique characteristics, histories, and features.
Would you like to take a look to see which chicks and pullets are available currently? You might not find the breeds in this article, but you might have a look at some others. Click the link to have a peek ===>Fly me to happy chickens 🐔
I hope you have enjoyed reading about these lovely chickens. I certainly enjoy bringing them to you. See you next time.